Selling flowers in a pandemic takes a lot more creativity and a lot more technology. This month in Floral Management, we share top tips from tech-savvy florists on how to deliver great content online and drive more sales to your business.
Some highlights from this month’s story:
Keep it Real. When Jackie Levine learned early Tuesday March 24 that she’d have to close her flower shop before noon that day, she did what many quick-thinking Millennials do: She got on Instagram.
This was no anxiety-fed scroll to distract her from the reality of temporarily closing Central Square Florist on orders from the state. Nope, Levine was going live to clear out the coolers. She had to move product fast and needed a way to show it off to as many people as possible. With more than 21,000 followers, Central Square Florist’s Instagram page offered the perfect venue. And Instagram Live, with its raw, unedited, “straight from the front lines” content proved the perfect way to capture the sense of urgency.
“I could not believe the response,” said Levine, manager of the family business in Cambridge, Massachusetts. “We had many people stop by the shop who all mentioned they saw the IG live. It was unbelievable. It totally helped us clear a huge chunk of our inventory.”
Tip: Part of the charm and power of IG Live is the rawness of it. You don’t want to look like a heavily made-up news anchor. Be yourself. Look like you do when you’re at the shop, not filming a commercial for the shop. If you’re working in your garden, that’s what viewers are tuning in for. Your followers want to see behind the scenes, even if that’s your back yard.
Be Flexible. The backyard is where Carly Anechiarico, a florist from Yonkers, New York, filmed her first Instagram content: an IGTV video. IGTV is where Instagram puts videos longer than 60 seconds. It shows up in followers’ feeds, but to view the entire clip, they have to click the “continue to IGTV” prompt. When she left her business, Blossom Flower Shop, on a Monday in late March — leaving one designer in the shop to handle deliveries — Anechiarico grabbed a couple buckets of flowers, determined to keep her hands in the business she loves and to interact with customers, however she could. As she was leaving, she posted on Instagram to stay tuned for what’s next for those buds — and her.
Next for Anechiarico came a backyard design class. She picked her backyard patio because that’s where the sunlight was good, and the sound — well, it had been pretty good, until the leaf blower started up nearby. She tried waiting him out but gave in to a waning sun. She apologized in the video’s description for the noise. Her followers clearly weren’t distracted. Anechiarico was so encouraged by the positive feedback that she launched an Instagram poll to gauge interest in a virtual design class via Zoom and was so encouraged by that feedback that she planned her first session for April, charging between $60 and $75 for the product, delivery and instruction.
Tip: Get creative with finding (or creating) a studio. Look for good light and a neutral background. Keep the clutter down so students can concentrate on your demonstration.
Stay on Message. In Wichita, Kansas, Jennifer Barnard of Tillie’s Flower Shop did a virtual plant tour before the shop’s showroom closed in March, as a large plant shipment had just arrived. (Her husband is an ICU nurse, so she knew the stay-at-home order was imminent.) She emphasized the environmental and emotional benefits of having plants in the home and encouraged viewers — and their kids — to become “plant parents” as they perfect in-home projects. That video had more than 2,200 views.
She shot another video from her front yard to feature two bows hanging on a tree. The shop is selling a red bow to symbolize prayers for the community, and the red, white and blue is a patriotic gesture in our unified effort. The video is the perfect example of showing that you’re a part of the community while also promoting a product.
Tip: Barnard encouraged florists to stay inspired by what has always inspired them: their product and the emotional connection and resonance it has with customers. Show off every bud, explain care and handling in detail, empower those stuck at home to think creatively and get their hands-on nature — especially if that piece of nature is colorful, mood-boosting and proven to calm and relax.
Amanda Long is a contributing writer to the Society of American Florists.